The past week has not been kind to television stars. Three major players have passed away, leaving huge holes in the world of television entertainment.
Art Linkletter (died May 27th after an illness): The passing of this giant makes those of us old enough to remember him truly sad for the younger generations who have no Art Linkletter. He reveled in the hilarity brought about by the innocence of childhood on his House Party show. His book, Kids Say the Darnedest Things, featured numerous quotes from the children who appeared on that program.
Linkletter had known numerous tragedies, losing three children (including a 20-year-old daughter jumping to her death in 1969). Still, he managed to keep a smile -- and keep the world smiling as he coaxed "the darnedest things" out of children.
Linkletter was 97.
Gary Coleman (died May 28th of a cerebral hemorrhage): He gave the phrase "Whatchoo talkin' about, Willis?" to American popular culture thanks to his role on the NBC series Diff'rent Strokes. The former child actor grew older but not up (because of kidney problems suffered in childhood), and he found his adult life filled with failures and troubles (although not to the extent of either child co-star: Dana Plato died of a drug overdose at the age of 34, and Todd Bridges has been plagued by legal and drug problems for decades). Coleman was 42.
Rue McClanahan (died June 3 of a stroke): People remember her best as the saucy Blanche from The Golden Girls, but her career had covered decades on the stage and the screen. In fact, The Golden Girls was the second time McClanahan had teamed with Beatrice Arthur: she first played Vivian, the best friend of the liberated Maude Findlay on the controversial series Maude in the 1970s. Her death at at the age of 76 leaves 88-year-old Betty White as the sole surviving "Golden Girl."
Farewell to these three television superstars.